Kaoru Mitoma leaves it late again as Brighton beat Bournemouth
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Kaoru Mitoma headed home an 87th-minute winner to earn Brighton a 1-0 victory over struggling Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium.
The Japan international, whose goal in stoppage time helped the Seagulls knock holders Liverpool out of the FA Cup last week, nodded past goalkeeper Neto to send his side into sixth place.
Both sides threatened throughout a pacey first half, the Cherries somehow surviving an onslaught that saw Deniz Undav denied three times within a matter of seconds.
Bournemouth put pressure on the hosts after the restart but failed to find the finishing touch as Brighton looked close to a breakthrough.
That finally came when substitute Jeremy Sarmiento sent a cross to Mitoma, who sealed all three points with his third goal in as many games.
Brighton had picked up 10 points from their previous five Premier League contests while the Cherries were looking for their first win in six matches.
The hosts had a chance inside the first two minutes when Danny Welbeck rose to meet Tariq Lamptey’s cross inside the six-yard box but the Cherries avoided conceding an early opener when referee Michael Oliver ruled the Seagulls forward had fouled Neto.
Hamed Traore, one of six January signings for Gary O’Neil and making his Cherries debut, sent an inswinging corner from the left which Chris Mepham could only tap into the side-netting with the outside of his foot.
Undav then saw his initial effort blocked by Mepham before Neto parried the rebound only for the Brighton striker to ping his third attempt off the left post.
Jefferson Lerma skied an effort at the other end before Pervis Estupinan brought down Dango Ouattara but a VAR check determined there was no penalty.
Bournemouth were initially able to fend off a Pascal Gross corner but Neto had to punch away a second set-piece before picking Estupinan’s attempt from the left out of the air.
Philip Billing put his body on the line to clear another threatening Albion attack before Welbeck tried to nod Solly March’s cross past Neto but instead directed it straight at the keeper.
Jordan Zemura and Billing were denied and the visitors survived an added-time onslaught as Undav sent a cross in the direction of the six-yard box but Welbeck could not connect.
Ouattara headed Zemura’s cross wide after the break for Bournemouth and Mitoma had a shot stopped by a diving Neto, who then tipped Welbeck’s attempt over the bar before Billy Gilmour shook the side-netting from close range.
Sarmiento tried to make an instant impact for the hosts as he came on for Welbeck and called Neto back into action with a decent effort.
Bournemouth debutant Antoine Semenyo was next to try to break the deadlock but his run down the centre of the pitch was halted by Estupinan’s perfectly-timed sliding tackle.
Ouattara tested Robert Sanchez with a soft effort to the bottom corner but neither side was able to break the deadlock as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark.
The hosts, who had threatened all afternoon, finally scored when Sarmiento whipped a cross into the area from the left and Mitoma nodded into the upper-left corner.
A leaping Neto got a hand on the ball but was unable to keep it out.
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